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I have a package of great coffee that I haven't opened yet. I'm moving to the USA from Germany in a few days. Can I take 8 Oz (227g) of vacuum sealed coffee to the USA in my checked luggage?

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Yes. I have brought home Vietnamese coffee on a few occasions.

What you CANNOT bring (food wise):

  • any FRESH fruit, vegetables, plants, spices: fresh produce of any kind
  • meats and fish, even when cooked and processed, are not allowed. I was denied bringing smoked reindeer from Finland.

I routinely bring in:

  • processed / dried herbs and spices, including spice pastes
  • dry tea
  • roasted coffee
  • a kind of yogurt sold in the nordics which is sold fresh, but sealed

Most processed and packaged food CAN be brought in, but maybe not meat/seafood. Most fresh foods cannot. I am unsure of green coffee.

Wet foods from Thailand (fresh curry paste and coconut sugar in particular) were allowed, BUT they appear to have caused my bag to be searched. I'm guessing that in an xray they have a similar appearance to certain explosives.

A FEW spices are occasionally banned in any form: Sichuan peppercorns (which can carry a virus harmful to citrus crops, to which they are related); cumin in any form was not allowed once, which also means many kinds of curry powder.

When coming in, when you fill in the form for what you are bringing in, it is best not to lie, but volunteer no more information that is specifically asked. I tend to be very general in what I say I am bringing (e.g. most non-food purchases are called "household goods"). When bringing food items, you have to tick YES, and I always write next to it "tea and dry spices only; no fresh produce, no meats or seafood". Writing this generally means I do not have to get scanned by the Agriculture part.

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I live in Brazil and I usually travel to US. I like to give Brazilian coffee for my friends. I never had any issue with that. The problem is that sometimes, the package could be opened.

  • Could be, but it is very unlikely. Even if the luggage is searched, the vacuum sealed containers will probably be left alone unless they appear to have been tampered with. – phoog Apr 26 '17 at 13:56
  • I live in South of Brazil and we drink Mate (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mate_(beverage)), like Argentina and Uruguay. Also, I bring this kind of tea in vacuum sealed package to US. I could say that in 50% of my travels, my packages were opened. Of course, usually, I have 10 or more packages in my checked luggage. – Marcel P. Apr 26 '17 at 14:01
  • Okay, let me rephrase. In my experience, it is very unlikely. My experience is perhaps more relevant in that I tend to be traveling from Europe rather than South America, and I tend to have only a small number of packages of food rather than ten or more. When you have so many packages do they typically open all of them or just one or two? – phoog Apr 26 '17 at 18:25
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    @phoog Useless knowledge: Coffee has such a strong odor that it hides drugs or other strong smelling things for smuggling, even for trained dogs. So the border police will take a sharper look for packages where the owner may be smuggling (and South America has high priority). – Thorsten S. Apr 26 '17 at 22:22
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    border control pro tip: call your packages "lbs" (pounds), rather than "kilos" ... – michael Apr 27 '17 at 2:37

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